Beyond the glitter and pizzazz: Skiing in Morocco is as vintage as it gets


Oukaïmeden, Snow, Morocco Ski, Ski Travel, Travel Destinations

Zigzagging our way up in our four-by-four safari vehicle, on the twisty road and through tiny communities, there are some incredible vistas being revealed as we prepare to begin our latest skiing adventure in Oukaïmeden.

Telling your friends you’ve been skiing in Morocco during your next cocktail will undoubtedly raise interest as it is a little bit surreal to think one can step out on the 25C+ streets of Marrakesh decked out winter wear to head off slopeskiing.

Ouka as known to locals is 80 kilometers (45 miles) south of Marrakesh. At 2,600m (8,530 ft.), is Africa’s highest ski resort with the chairlift rising to 3,265 m (10711, ft.) abovesea level. Five runs come down from this dizzying height; elsewhere four poma lifts service the rest of the resort Oppblåsbare dørvakter.

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The views from the top of Africa’s rooftop

It was the French ‘Chasseurs Alpins’ who made it up the snowy High Atlas mountain range in the 1930’s.  The first tow lift was installed in 1953, followed by a chairlift more than adecade later. The chair was entirely refurbished in 2000.

While it is the biggest ski resort in Africa – be prepared – this isn’t Vail, Whistler or Zermatt. No pizzazz, no whiz but it is entirely genuine. It does offer all of the amenities: ski rentals, lodging and restaurants, Moroccan style.

But don’t get discouraged. Skiing in Morocco is not about the glitz. It is about the blending of winter sports, culture and the discovery of friendly people. If you like the outdoorand the timing is right, this may just be the side trip you’ll want to take during your next vacationGéant Water Slide.

Hotel shuttles to the lift base are few and schedules irregular, but donkeys are widely available for about $10 per ride. Mounting with boots, skis, and poles is not the easiest butwhere else can you claim to have had such an original ride to the lift.

 

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Tickets and rentals (excluding boots) cost about $40 per day. The main rental shop has a limited set of skis and alternate shops offer a limited range of older equipment. Most shops rent clothing so you don’t have to weigh yourself down with skiwear tucked in your luggage.

From the top of the lift of Oukaïmeden, it’s hard to believe that you are in subtropical Africa. Ouka is a collector’s resort, but the high altitude means that snow is pretty reliable from January until late March or April.

Water restrictions have limited the ability to invest in snowmaking equipment, so be prepared to switch your plans if a dry winter spell sets in. However, when it snows, you can bet the quality rivals some of the best resorts in the world. Grooming isn’t what you’d expect in traditional North American and European resorts so be prepared to work harder at turning. The main runs from the top chair, Grande Combe and Pistes des Moufflons, are black and there is no easy run road in case you want to ski-out .

The out-of-bounds resort markers are not clearly indicated, so it is advisable to ski with caution as the only ski map available on site is the one that’s painted on the mainboard at the base of the mountain.

 

 

Hotel Chez JuJu, JuJu, Oukaïmeden, Ski, Winter, Travel, Africa, skiing, Morocco ski

Chez JuJu is the best place for après-ski in Oukaïmeden

 

 

If your stomach starts rumbling, there are kiosks that sell snacks and a few restaurants. We ate at Chez Juju on a beautiful sunny afternoon. This place has a very classic French feel to it and the staff is welcoming. Axel, a Swedish skier with the group, said the place stood still in time since he came to the resort many decades earlier. Tangine is on the menu, of course, but also chicken and cassoulet dishes. This is also one of the only places with the exception of the hotels where you can also order beer.  

Chez JuJu, People of Morocco, OuKaïmeden, Ski Morocco, Ski Africa,

The staff from Chez JuJu offer a very personal experience!

There are three hotels in the area: a 160-bed Club Alpin hostel, the 101-room four star- Hotel Club Louka and Le Courchevel. Nightlife is limited but there are other activities such as cross-country skiing, tobogganing, and a scenic lift ride up the chair to the summit. There is also an observatory with special activities to get a clear view of the night sky.  

Most people come up to Oukaïmeden for the day or overnight but don’t plan lengthy ski vacations, preferring to opt instead for the traditional European resorts just a few short hours away.

There has been commercial interest in the past from Dubai and Germany to modernize the resort and infrastructure. But all seems quiet now, since the shovels have yet to break ground.  If you are looking for an authentic experience, this may be a good time for you to think about it before the resort does eventually modernize the infrastructure. Enjoy it while it’s still in the raw!

Getting there:

Air: Fly into Marrakesh or hire a taxi direct from Casablanca. It may take 3.5 hours. Go through a travel agency for more competitive rates.

Hotel Club Louka : www.clublouka.com – Tel: @212 524 31 90 30 – email: [email protected]

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